tv Face the Nation CBS September 26, 2010 10:30am-11:00am EDT
>> schieffer: today on face the nation, reading the tea leaves. what's the tea party all about and what do its members really want? at first democrats and republicans brushed it off, but no more. not after tea party candidates toppled establishment republicans in alaska, delaware, florida, colorado, nevada, kentucky, and utah. but what exactly does this leaderless movement aim to do? what are its goals? is it a greater threat to republicans or democrats? we'll talk to two of its surprise successes marco rubio who won the republican senate nomination in florida and ken buck, the upset winner in colorado's republican senate primary. and then we'll talk with veteran political organizer
and fund-raiser sal russo who some are calling the karl rove of tea party politics. then i'll have a final word on the awful cost of war. but first what's a tea party on face the nation? captioning sponsored by cbs "face the nation" with cbs news "face the nation" with cbs news chief washington correspondent bob schieffer. and now from cbs news in washington, bob schieffer. >> schieffer: good morning again and welcome to face the nation. we're going straight to miami and marco rubio, the republican nominee forsonality in florida. mr. rubio, thanks for coming. most people who follow politics know you took on florida's popular incumbent republican governor charlie crist. in the primary for the republican senate nomination. before it was over he had left the party as you went up in the polls. he's now running as an
independent. let me just ask you first, do you think of yourself as a tea party candidate? >> first, good morning and thank you for having me on your program. i don't think anybody can make that claim about themselves because to do that you'd have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the tea party movement is. i think the biggest mistake being made by those who follow politics is they're trying to understand what's happening across our country through a traditional political lens, how you would view the republican party or the democrat party. the tea party movement is an expression of what i think is a mainstream widespread sentiment in america that washington is broken, that both parties are to blame, and that people want to elect folks that are going to go to washington d.c., number one and do what they say they're going to do primarily stand up for the agenda and offer clear alternatives that embrace the things that maybe america exceptional. for example americans believe in the free enterprise system. they understand that it makes us the most prosperous people in human history. they don't want to walk away from it. so i think the widespread sentiment is that we don't
want to change america. we want to fix the things that are wrong in america. the tea party movement is an expression of that sentiment. >> schieffer: all right. well what is it? you have said over and over you're coming here to challenge republicans and democrats. what in your view have the republicans done wrong? >> remember the republicans had a majority in washington for the better part of 10 to 12 years. they didn't fulfill some of the promises they had made in '94 when they were elected things like a balance bunk it amendment. things like banning earmarks like term limits. these are fundamental things among others that people are looking for from washington. if you say you're going to do that and you get elected then do it. there's got to be some level of accountability. unfortunately politics today are full of people that think they can say or do anything because once they get elected they think they'll raise so much money they can make you for get. >> schieffer: you come from a state and are runing in a state where a lot of folks are on social security. do you believe that it's time to privatize social security as? has it outrun its usefulness? >> no i do not believe it should be privatized.
i don't believe it's outlived its usefulness. i think it's an extremely important program and it should be preserved and saved. i view social security through the eyes of two people my four children and my mom. my mom is a beneficiary of social security. she turns 80 this year. it is her primary source of income. without its existence her life would be very hard and difficult. i to think social security faces long-term challenges that need to be confronted because i want to see three things happen. number one i don't want to see any benefit reductions or changes for current retirees or people close to retirement. number two i want to see social security survive for me, my generation and my children's generation as well. and number three i want to ensure that the long term problems in social security don't bankrupt our country. >> schieffer: what do you do to keep it from bankrupting the country because you're saying... you seem like you want to keep it just like it is but you want to fix it. what is it that you do.... >> bob, i say we want to keep it how it is for current beneficiaries because these are folks that have paid into the system given certain assurances of what the system is going to look like.
younger workers like myself people 39 years of age like i am we're going to have to accept that there's going to be some changes to social security. perhaps they're going to have to change the way the benefit is indexed. perhaps we're going to have to continue to allow the retirement age to fluctuate as it has been doing since the early 1980s. that's for younger workers like myself who have 20 or 30 years to prepare for this. people on the system now or let's say ten years from retirement or 12 years from retirement, these folks can't all of a sudden make a change to adjust for it. think we have to start talking honestly about the long term chlenges facing a very important program social security because we want to save it. it's important. we want to preserve it. >> schieffer: a lot of the tea party folk around the country talk about arizona's new immigration law. they'd like to see that a model in every state. this is the law, of course, that allows the police officers if they stop someone for another offense to check their citizenship. i think when you first heard about this law passing, you said it would create a police state. what's your take on the
immigration laws? should we have something like the arizona law? >> three things. number one arizona legislature actually changed the law after it first passed and prohibited things like stopping people because of ethnic profiling. i think that was a positive change. number two, i think we need to recognize that states like arizona, california, texas and a few others are in a very unique situation. s a as has a huge open border basically with a country in mexico that has an all out drug war. arizona is not seeing the immigration challenges of that but the security challenges of that. the public safety challenges of that. we have to understand why arizona did this. they have a 10th amendment right to have done it. i've continued to say that the arizona law should not be a model for the rest of the country. it should be a wake-up call to the federal government to once and for all take the issue of immigration seriously particularly things like border security and the need for a verify system. the federal had been doing its job on immigration there never would have been an arizona law. >> schieffer: let me ask you this finally. you preach fiscal
responsibility but your opponents say you don't live it. they say you've been deeply in debt for much of your life. they say you have sometimes put your own personal expenses on your republican party credit card. how do you answer those critics? >> they're false. the republican party of florida has never paid for my personal expenses. as far as in debt is concerned. they call debt a mortgage. yes i bought a home using a mortgage. i bought two homes one here and one in tallahassee using a mortgage. the vast majority of americans would be shocked that buying a home with a mortgage is somehow irresponsible. i have a student loan. my parents worked very hard but they couldn't save enough money to send me to law school. i borrowed money and paid my student loans. it provided me my education. my opponents say that because they're wrng on the ideas. they have no idea on the critic issues facing our country so they want to make personal attacks against me the center piece of their campaign. this election is too important. at stake is the very identity of our country. are we going to remain exceptional or are we going to
become like everybody else? americans want to remain exceptional. they're looking for candidates that will fight for them. >> schieffer: all right. thank you very much, mr. rubio, for those insights this morning. i hope we'll see you again. we're going to turn now to ken buck who is another republican candidate for the senate who is backed by the tea party out in colorado. he joins us from our studio in new york. mr. buck, you just heard marco rubio. your opponents say that you are an extremist. are you? >> no. plain and simple, no. >> schieffer: why? >> you know, if being 13 trillion dollars in debt, if having 100 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities, if running a vehicle off the cliff is extreme, then they're the extremists. i'm the person, i'm the candidate that wants to get away from that and is working very hard with the citizens of kl colonel to make sure we do get away from that. >> schieffer: what would you do if you are elected and you
come to washington? what's the first thing you would do to get out of control spending under control? >> i think we need to look at some sort of constitutional balanced budget amendment or spending limit in some formula that keeps spending under control. we are clearly heading off a cliff. the tea party movement, the grass roots movement in colorado, recognizes that republicans are every bit as much to blame for where we are right now as democrats but we have to find some discipline from outside of washington d.c. and impose it on our congress and executive branch. >> schieffer: you heard last week when republicans here in washington proposed a series of tax cuts from the wealthiest americans to some in the lowest income brackets, democrats say that if you put those wealthy americans, add them on to the tax cuts that they too are proposing which are going to increase the federal deficit, that it would just send it through the roof. how do you come down on those tax cuts? are the tax cuts worth it for
the deficit spending it's going to cost? >> well, it's interesting language. i don't see it as tax cuts. they talk about extendings the bush tax cuts. we have a tax rate right now. increasing that tax rate to me is a tax increase. also i think you have to look at where do families cut if we don't maintain our tax rates where they are right now? what do familys have to give up in order to pay for the government spending, the overspending that's going on in the federal government? i come down on the side of low taxes because i think it's going to generate jobs in this economy. >> schieffer: would you agree if there were no other alternative to extend the tax cuts for the lower-income americans if the bill did not include tax cuts for the upper income americans? >> i think we have to extend tax cuts for all. i'm going to work towards that end. obviously any tax cuts that we or any maintaining our current tax rates for any group is better than nothing but i'm in favor of maintaining our
current tax rates for all americans. >> schieffer: mr. buck, you took some fairly absolutist positions in the primary on some social issues. on abortion, for example, you said you would never vote to confirm a pro abortion candidate to any federal position. do you still hold to that? >> what i said was that i wouldn't-- and i won't use abortion as a litmus test. but if someone is pro abortion not just pro-choice not just believing that abortion should be rare, limited, but if someone is promoting abortion, i think that goes beyond the... outside the boundaries of normal politics. i will not support a candidate that is pro abortion. >> schieffer: i don't understand that. you say you won't support a candidate who is pro abortion but you won't use that as a litmus test. that is a litmus test is it not. >> i won't use abortion as a litmus test with a pro-choice individual. someone that is an activist on the abortion issue i think goes outside the pale and i
cannot support an activist on the abortion issue. >> schieffer: you also said that you would support a proposed law out in colorado that would have banned some forms of birth control. some birth control pills. do you still hold to that? >> i have never said that, no. i have said that there is an amendment... there was a state amendment on personhood. i have said that i am in favor of personhood as a concept. i am not taking a position on any of the state amendments. i have said over and over again and that has been reported over and over again that i am not in favor of banning any common forms of birth control in colorado or in the united states. >> schieffer: all right. so we've cleared that one up. let me ask you about something else i read in the papers out there. at one point you were in favor of turning veterans hospitals over to people in the private sector to run. is that what you said? >> you're getting the democrat speaking points here. >> schieffer: these come from newspaper clippings, but i want to hear your side of it obviously. that's why i asked.
>> sure. what i said, i was asked a question about the veterans administration. i said if we could improve the quality and care for veterans by outsourcing some of the functions such as running a veterans administration hospital, i would be in favor of doing that. i think that it is important also as part of that answer, i said that i think that we'd have to look at the cost. the cost can't come out of the veterans' pockets. the cost would have to come out of the government if there was a cost involved in that outsourcing. but i think that the private sector runs operations like hospitals and other operations better than the government. if we can reduce the deficit and provide better quality of care for our veterans i'm in favor of doing things like that. >> schieffer: what do you have in common with these other tea party candidates across the country like christine o'donnell in delaware, maybe the people running in some of these other races like marco rubio? do you see yourself as part of a national party, the tea party? >> i see myself as part of a
group of candidates who have been elected in this country because of frustration with what's happening in washington d.c. i think there are similarities, there are some difference across the country. the one thing that we have in common is a firm belief that the constitution should govern our role in washington d.c. we recognize the frustration for both what the republican party and the democrat party have been doing in washington d.c. and we're going there not to be part of the establishment. not to be part of what we consider the problem in washington d.c. but to get there and to reduce spending and to promote ideas like a balanced budget amendment and term limits and ideas that have been talked about for a while in d.c. we have been sold to voters in various states as positive ideas but they haven't really been worked on very hard in washington d.c. >> schieffer: all right. mr. buck, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
very enlightening to get your positions out there. we'll be back in a minute to talk with one of the leading strategists in this movement. ♪ [ man ] i thought our family business would always be boots. until one day, my daughter showed me a designer handbag. and like that, we had a new side to our business. [ male announcer ] when the martinez family saw an opportunity, the hartford was there. protecting their employees and property, and helping them prepare for the future. nice boots. nice bag. [ male announcer ] see how the hartford helps businesses at achievewhatsahead.com. lord of the carry-on. sovereign of the security line. you never take an upgrade for granted. and you rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle.
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o'donnell, the woman who pulled that upset in delaware. let me just ask you first. where do you get this money? >> well the tea party express is a federal political action committee. we don't have a 501 c-3 or a 527 or any of these other devices. all of our money has to come from individuals by a law we can't take corporate donations and our contributions are limited to less than $5,000. we have about a half million members around the country. they contribute i think about an average of $62, $63 per person. so we're the purist form of democracy, i think, in the tea party movement in the sense that when we want to do something we don't have any money to start with. we have to send an email out to our people and say, hey, we think sharon angle will be a great candidate in nevada. do you want to get behind her. here's what we want to do to get on television. they have to send us money to finance it. we're very responsive to what our people want.
if we have good ideas, then they respond by contributing. we're able to go out and help these campaigns of these good tea party, you know, type candidates that have been winning consistently throughout the primary season. >> schieffer: last week on this broadcast former president clinton said that he understood the anger of the tea party but he said the part that bothered him was that there were some very rich folks back there in the shadows who are bank rolling this for their own partisan reasons. are you telling me that you don't get any donation larger than $5,000? no way, no how somebody could give your organization more than that, one single person? >> that's absolutely correct. one of the things we've had to face from the beginning is, you know, people have dried to demonize the tea party movement with a lot of false accusations. as you know, first it was we were all astroturf. somebody was paying to turn out. then we're a bunch of crock pots and nuts and a bunch of racists. this movement keeps glowing because it grows on the
fundamental principle that unites all the tea party movements, and that is a belief that the federal government has become too big, too intrusive, with the accompanying higher taxes, onerous regulations, higher deficits and a skyrocketing national debt. that is the only issue that we have at the tea party express. some of the other tea party groups have gotten off on to foreign policy issues or social issues or other things. but the tea party express has been laser focused only on the one fundamental economic issue, and that's the basis for which we choose our candidates. >> schieffer: let me ask you this. some people in the republican party say that the tea party may actually be helping the democrats because it may be getting some people into the general election here that would be easier to beat than some of the establishment republicans who were running against democrats. and this race in delaware is one they point to. christine o'donnell is now 15
points down to the democratic candidate in that race. had mike castle former governor up there and congressman gotten that nomination, everybody thought he was an overwhelming favorite to win. how do you respond to that because you gave money to christine o'donnell. >> yes, we were quite proud to do that. i guess what i would say is if you look back to february of 2009 which is really the beginning of the tea party movement with rick's rant. the republican party was going the way of the whigs. the democrats had a big generic advantage in the ballot. and they were saying that the democrats were going to break the historic trend for in- parties and the democrats were actually going to win house and senate seats in 2010. well look what's happened. i mean we've turned the political system on its head. what's done that is that millions of americans, many of whom have been sitting out of the political process, have gotten involved in the campaigns.
we're now winning senate seats and house seats that people didn't even think were possible 18 months ago. i think the tea party movement has been a big boost for conservative candidate, economically conservative candidates. sometimes that may not help republicans and sometimes it does. but i think what people want to do is send a message to washington that we have to get off this fiscal insanity merry go round that just keeps going round and round and round whether republicans or democrats are in control. so in addition to finding strong conservatives on the economic issues the other trait we've looked for in all of our candidates is a little bit of independence, a willingness to stand up and say this emperor has no clothes. so if you look at our candidates, they're all pretty independent cusses. that's what we need. it remines me back of the 1980 campaign when as you know the carter white house was rejoicing that they got ronald reagan who would be so easy to beat. the establishment republicans, many of them, even supported john anderson as an
independent republican to run against reagan. not only did reagan win a majority against carter and anderson, but re-elected 12 new republican senators and those 12 senators provided crucial votes for the reagan economic policies. for the next six years. i think we're going to have a repeat of that which is going to be actually inevitably benefit republicans but hopefully because the republicans are get the message that they've got to change the culture of washington. >> schieffer: 15 seconds left. do you think republicans will take the house and the senate? or just the house or neither? >> you know, we still have a ways to go but i think we're going to have tremendous gains and more importantly the kinds of people that we are electing are going to be willing to stand up for more responsible fiscal policy in washington. >> schieffer: all right. thank you, mr. russo, very much for that. we'll be back in a moment with some final thoughts. in the sky ♪ 's planes ♪ for a chain of supply, that's logistics ♪
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>> schieffer: finally today i was in an airport lounge the other day when i saw a woman across the way. why i kept staring at her, i don't know. maybe it was just she seemed so sad. then i understood. as i looked away then hoping she had not seen me stair because in her lap was an american flag neatly folded into a triangle and placed in a clear plastic case, a flag folded the way it always is when it is given to a soldier's family as the soldier's coffin is lowered into a grave. i couldn't help but wonder
what memories that flag evoked as she held it there. did it remind her of the first time she had seen her child in the delivery room or was it the memory of seeing him go off to school that first day or when he brought home the prize from the science fair or maybe made the touchdown or gave her the first valentine when he wrote out, "mommy, i love you." i kept thinking all the talk in washington about the high cost of defense and how we have to cut the pentagon budget before it bankrupts the country. but as i watched that woman, budge hes seemed to be such a small part of all of it. no, the real cost of war is not what we pay in dollars and cents. the real cost is what we take from a mother who is left with just a memory and a neatly folded flag in a clear plastic case. back in a minute.
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